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Tom Ohmer guest-starred in the season four premiere episode “Mr. Monk and the Other Detective” as the unfortunate sergeant who has the task of cleaning up the, you know, [whisper]dog poo.[/whisper] He was recently asked to reprise his role for the upcoming episode “Mr. Monk and the Astronaut.”

Tom was born in Michigan and raised in Indiana. He attended Indiana University, where he was cast in a small role as a fraternity jock in the film Breaking Away.

He later moved to Chicago, where he modeled and acted in commercials. In 1981 he moved to Hollywood. His first role was as a chauffeur on Dynasty. He guest starred on many TV series including: The Love Boat, Murder She Wrote, It’s a Living, Cheers, Young and the Restless and he had a recurring role on Days of our Lives.

In the mid 80s, Tom left acting to pursue a career in law enforcement. He became a police officer and joined the Los Angeles Police Department. After the 1992 riots, Tom left the LAPD and joined the Simi Valley Police Department as a motorcycle officer.

He’s now retired from the police force and has once again become a full time actor. Still an active Reserve Police Officer in Simi Valley, he was named Reserve Officer of the Year in 2003 and in 2005.

In a telephone interview, on September 17, 2005, Tom shared some of his Monk experiences.


What was your first Monk audition (for “Mr. Monk and the Other Detective”) like?

“I got a call from the CFB Casting,” Tom recalls. He then describes the usual audition procedure, which begins with the submission of pictures and resumes by the actor’s agent and an initial audition with the casting director. “However,” he adds, “my first audition was with the producers and director of the show.”

Much of the preliminaries are now “done electronically, on the internet.” Demo reel, photos, resumes etc. can all be in a casting director's office in the blink of an eye. “It saves a lot of time, and a lot of hassle.”

Typically Monk has about 12 guest roles to cast for each episode. For each role the casting directors audition 10 to 20 people and filter through them until they're left with only three. “They don’t have all day,” so the producers want to make sure that those who can’t handle the roles are “filtered out.” The casting director was able to quickly “see from my resumé that I’ve worked on this and I’ve worked on that. I can handle the job,” says Tom.

So a “producer session” with a Monk producer and director was set up for him at Ren Mar Studios in Hollywood. ”I read for part. I got it the next day.”

Do you think having been a police officer gave you an advantage when you auditioned for the role?

“Yes, definitely,” Tom says and he even admits he’ll sometimes “wear my uniform to audition. It’s helped me get a lot of the roles I’ve done and commercials. Directors realize that they’ll get not just an actor but a technical adviser, who knows police jargon and technique as well. I let them pick my brain. It gives it credibility.”

Tom remembers, in particular, when he worked for director Billy Crystal in Forget Paris. Billy pulled him aside: “I know you’re a real police officer,” he said to Tom and told him he’d welcome any advice he had to give.

Did you have any advice to give Monk’s directors?

Monk has their own technical advisers,” says Tom, but he did offer “a couple of suggestions” to Ted Levine (Stottlemeyer) who responded enthusiastically and “took me over to the director.”

Tom does acknowledge that even with his advice no television show is going to be completely accurate. “On some things they have to have artistic license,” he says.


“If ninety percent of the audience wouldn’t know the difference sometimes it’s not worth it.”

So, for instance, would a Police Captain show up in the field as much as Stottlemeyer does?

“Oh, yes. The captain will show up... for a homicide, yeah. You’d have a whole Homicide unit with a Captain and a Lieutenant. There are several dozen captains in the San Francisco Police department. There would usually be one at a homicide investigation. That’s accurate.”

Where was your first scene for “Mr. Monk and the Other Detective” filmed?

“A shopping center in Calabasas, The Commons, northwest of L.A..”

Was the cast of Monk fun to work with or was it all serious business?

“It was an amazing thing,” Tom recalls. “ Everybody was nice, open and not just the cast, but the crew as well… hair, makeup, grips, gaffers, guest director [Eric Launeville], everybody… real fun. Jason Alexander was the guest star. He was very open, no airs or pretensions.

“I felt very welcome when I came back. It was like a family reunion. It was the first episode of the new season and they hadn’t seen each other.

“This last time Jason… Gray-Stanford had just finished a Clint Eastwood film, Flags of Our Fathers, about Iwo Jima. We talked about it at lunch. He was really excited. They shot in Iceland. He was telling me how really great it was to be directed by Clint Eastwood.

"It was even better: twice as fun.”

Did the Monk producers just call you up and say that you were so great the first time around that they had to have you back?

The casting director Corbin [Bronson] called late Wednesday afternoon and said ‘You did a good job the first time. We’d like you to do it again, but the thing is we film tomorrow morning.’ I said [enthusiastically] ‘Where do you want me?! And what time do you want me there?!’

“When we were done Randy Zisk said ‘Hey, we’ll have you back again.’ A recurring role, in a series like this, is most actors’ dream!”

Did you go to Edwards Air Force base for the filming of “Mr. Monk and the Astronaut?” If so, what was that like?

“No, I didn’t. My scenes are all shot in South Central L.A.. It’s a lower middle class neighborhood really, near USC, but the scene features a bad guy who’s supposed to live in a bad neighborhood so they had to mess it up some.”

Did they beef up your role a little?

“Originally I just had a scene where I come in with a print out of phone records of the murder victim’s calls. I have some dialogue with Ted Levine. He says, ‘Oh, yeah, thanks.’ But they added stuff with me directing men to the murder scene.”

So they’ve asked you back for more?

“Director Randy Zisk told me, ‘Oh, we’ll have you come back and do more.’”

Do you have any funny, peculiar or inspirational anecdotes about the filming of either episode?

“No, no… It was just really good and nice. Ted Levine and I really hit it off. There’s a lot of down time. They’d put the stand ins in. We’d go for a cup of coffee, Ted and I. He was just a real nice guy, really friendly.

“Tony Shalhoub always said ‘Hi.’ He was friendly too, but he was focused. He was very nice, but as a guest star you never want to bother the main star. They need their own space. You can tell when someone needs to be left alone."

“Ted mentioned he’d been doing a horror film on the break and Jason his stuff, but Tony didn’t. He spent time with his family.”

Who’s the funniest member of the cast?

“They all are. Jason and Ted and Tony and Traylor all collaborate. They say, ‘Let’s try it this way or let’s try it that way.’ There’s usually eight or ten takes. It’s such a group effort. Everybody was open to changes. Some directors are very 'it’s my way or the highway,' but not Randy Zisk. They all have a chemistry. They know what works.”

Who’s the smartest?

“They’re all very smart, very intelligent. They work together as a cast.”

Do you know how old Jason Gray-Stanford is?


“No, I don’t know. In the IMDB he’s just got question marks, I don’t know.”

There was one thing Tom was certain of: “Traylor, in person, is even more beautiful.”

At this point Tom did recall an anecdote from his time on the set: “When you’re done shooting the master shot, everybody breaks for close-ups. So they shoot in one direction and then they shoot the other way and one 30 second scene can take three or four hours.

So, we’re back off in the craft services area and the cast have director’s chairs, you know, with their names embroidered on them. I sat in Ted Levine’s chair. He came back. Now on some shows that would be a big deal, but when I tried to give it back he said, ‘No, sit in the chair’ I tried. He wouldn’t take it. He wouldn’t let me give it back. There was no where else to sit but an old rickety beach chair. But he still said 'Take my chair.' He’s just unpretentious.”

You look young for your age. What’s your secret?

“Most of my actor friends are younger. I can’t afford not to be in shape. I have to be well rested. There’s lots of competition. I work out three times a week. I eat really well. No partying. I’m a single father with two boys. I know lots of actors who are party party and party and beat themselves up. You can’t do that. You have to stay healthy.”

For more information on Tom Ohmer please visit his official website.


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